Google employees form labor union with eye on future protests
Over 200 employees and contractors of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., in the United States and Canada have formed a labor union, the group's elected leaders announced on Monday. The union, called the "Alphabet Workers Union," is aimed at promoting workplace equity and ethical business practices. It is said to be the culmination of a string of protests by Google workers in recent years.
Group aims to create formal structure to organize future protests
The union will collect dues of 1% of total compensation from its members which will be directed toward paid organizers, events, legal support, and wages for members in the event of a labor strike. It does not aim to seek a collective bargain with Alphabet over pay and working conditions. Instead, it is aiming to create a more formal structure to organize future protests.
'Will ensure workers know what they are working on'
Announcing the union, Google engineers Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw wrote in The New York Times on Monday, "Our union will work to ensure that workers know what they're working on, and can do their work at a fair wage, without fear of abuse, retaliation or discrimination." Koul is the Executive Chair of the Alphabet Workers Union, while Shaw is the Vice Chair.
Handling of sexual harassment complaints, working with military among issues
Writing in the NYT, Koul and Shaw addressed the concerns over Alphabet's handling of sexual harassment complaints, its work with the US military, and other issues. Describing it as an "unethical working environment," they said workplace concerns are often dismissed by executives. The issues also include collaborations with repressive governments, crackdowns on employees who speak out, profiting from ads by a hate group, etc.
'We joined Alphabet to build tech that improves the world'
The statement in the NYT said, "We are the workers who built Alphabet. We write code, clean offices, serve food, drive buses, test self-driving cars...We joined Alphabet because we wanted to build technology that improves the world." It added, "We want Alphabet to be a company where workers have a meaningful say in decisions that affect us and the societies we live in."
Will continue engaging directly with all employees: Google
Kara Silverstein, the director of people operations at Google, said on Monday, "Our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we have always done, we will continue engaging directly with all our employees."
In recent past, Google has faced criticism for mistreating employees
The tech industry has notably seen minimal union activity and worker protests. However, Google has been facing criticism for its treatment of employees. The US labor regulator has accused the company of unlawfully questioning several workers, who were eventually terminated for protesting against company policies and trying to organize a workers' union. In its defense, Google has said that it had acted legally.